Last reviewed 23 December 2020

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has entered a legally binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) after a former DWP employee won her claim of direct discrimination on the basis of age and race, racial harassment and victimisation.

The employee, who is mixed Nigerian and Welsh, joined the DWP branch in Caerphilly as a full-time administrative officer in 2017 as the only non-white recruit and only trainee over the age of 50 in her cohort.

During her time at DWP, she was subjected to racist language, humiliated and discriminated against while being repeatedly accused of stealing, the tribunal found.

After going on sick leave in March 2017, she was dismissed in October that year for being unable to return to work, which the Employment Tribunal ruled as constructive dismissal.

In its judgment, the Tribunal recommended that the DWP pay out more than £386,000 in compensation and seek assistance from EHRC in reviewing its equality and diversity training to ensure it was effectively implemented throughout the organisation.

The agreement commits DWP to carrying out an action plan to improve its approach to equality and diversity, including steps such as:

  • working with ACAS to review diversity and inclusion training and considering and implementing any recommendations the review suggests

  • working with the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) to review the departmental processes for handling Employment Tribunal cases and considering and implementing its recommendations

  • reviewing grievance and dignity at work procedures and making any changes required

  • implementing an Induction Review and Induction Assurance Framework to ensure greater consistency in inductions and a positive introduction to the Department

  • introducing Ambassadors for Fair Treatment (AFTs) across DWP to provide additional support to employees.

EHRC Chief Executive, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said: “It’s over half a century since the Relations Act and a decade into the Equality Act 2010. This behaviour is against the law and we really shouldn’t still be seeing these cases.”